Castile and León – the largest autonomous community in Spain in terms of area

Castile and León (Castilla y León) is an autonomous community in Spain, referred to as a “historical and cultural community” in its Statute of Autonomy.

It was established as a pre-autonomy in 1978 and acquired its status as an autonomous community in 1983.

Its territory is located in the northern part of the plateau of the Iberian Peninsula and corresponds mainly to the Spanish part of the Duero hydrographic basin.

Castile and León is a landlocked region, bordered by Portugal as well as by the Spanish autonomous communities of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country, La Rioja, Aragon, Castile-La Mancha, the Community of Madrid and Extremadura.

It comprises nine provinces: Ávila, Burgos, León, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid and Zamora. The capital city is Valladolid.

It is the largest autonomous community in Spain in terms of area, covering 94,222 km2.

The heritage of Castile and León includes 9 World Heritage Sites, almost 1,800 classified assets of cultural interest, 112 historical sites, 400 museums, more than 500 castles, of which 16 are considered to be of high historical value, 12 cathedrals, 1 co-cathedral, and the largest concentration of Romanesque art in the world.

Castilla y León constitutes, together with the Italian region of Lombardy, the region in the world with the most distinguished properties with the maximum figure of protection granted by UNESCO, with a total of 11 properties.

The region is popular in the Camino de Santiago and Camino del Cid touristic cultural routes.

Tourism and main attractions

Castilian-Leonese architecture is of great historical importance. Its artistic-architectural heritage leads it to have some world-class ensembles. It stands out in both civil and religious architecture. Within this are numerous cathedrals, monasteries, and churches, where one of the largest Romanesque style churches in the world stands out, especially in the province of Palencia. The Basilica of San Vicente de Ávila also stands out as an example of Romanesque.

Within military architecture, fortresses such as the one in Segovia stand out. But, without a doubt, the most representative are the castles, whose number is immense in Castilla y León. Land of castles, many stand out for their importance, such as Ponferrada Castle, Peñafiel Castle, Frías, Fuensaldaña, Simancas, Coca, Ampudia, Enrique II of Trastámara, Cuellar, Los Comuneros and Benavente, among many others.

In addition, Castilla y León has three cities considered World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. They are Avila, Salamanca and Segovia.

The Plaza Mayor of the Charra capital is considered the best representation of the Churrigueresque style.

There is also an important heritage of the Mozarabic style. Examples include the numerous Mozarabic churches from the time of the Christian repopulation on both banks of the Duero, such as the monastery of San Miguel de Escalada or the hermitage of San Baudelio de Berlanga. Another example is the Royal Monastery of Santa Clara de Tordesillas.

Within Renaissance architecture, the Palacio de Santa Cruz stands out, the current seat of the rectorate of the University of Valladolid. From the same period, palaces of the Castilian nobility stand out throughout the community.

In Valladolid, we can find the palace of Fabio Nelli, today a museum; the Pimentel Palace, the current Valladolid Provincial Council and the place where King Philip II was born, or the Vivero Palace, which served as the headquarters of the former Chancery of Valladolid as well as the place where the Catholic Monarchs signed their marriage agreement.

On the other hand, the Casa de las Conchas in Salamanca introduces Renaissance, Gothic and Plateresque elements. Also notable in this city is the Palacio de Monterrey, Plateresque in style and owned by the House of Alba. Salamanca concentrates on several important works of this style, such as the Convent of San Esteban.

In Burgos, the Casa del Cordón stands out, and within Elizabethan art, the Cartuja de Miraflores, the greatest exponent of this style. Also relevant is the Cistercian monastery of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, important for its architecture, history and the musical Codex of Las Huelgas.

The Herrerian style is also present in the region. The Ducal Palace of Lerma is the most representative work of this style within the region.

Places to visit (by province in alphabetical order)

Ávila province

Arévalo – a site of cultural interest

Ávila – the capital of the province

Bonilla de la Sierra and its Collegiate Church

Mombeltrán Castle was erected by Beltrán de la Cueva, first Duke of Albuquerque

Burgos province

Aranda de Duero and its wineries

Briviesca and its attractions

Burgos – the capital of the province

Caleruega – the birthplace of Saint Dominic

Covarrubias – a National Historic-Artistic Site

Frías – the smallest city in Spain

Lerma – a Historical Complex

Miranda de Ebro and its attractions

Peñaranda de Duero – a Historical Complex

Poza de la Sal – a Historic-Artistic Site

Santa María de la Vid – the first Premonstratensian monastery in Spain

Santo Domingo de Silos and its monastery

León province

Astorga – the European birthplace of chocolate

Carucedo lake stands out due to the Roman excavations of Las Médulas

Castrillo de los Polvazares – a Historic-Artistic Complex

Congosto and its Bárcena reservoir

Cornatel castle was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1949

León – the capital of the province

Molinaseca – a Historic-Artistic Site

Monastery of Saint Mary of Carracedo – a National Historical-Artistic monument

Monastery of San Pedro de Montes was founded around the year 635

Peñalba de Santiago and its rural architecture

Ponferrada and its Templar castle

Roman bridge known as Passo Honroso

Villafranca del Bierzo – a Historic-Artistic Site

Virgen de la Peña Sanctuary dates back to the 13th century

Palencia province

Aguilar de Campoo – a Historic-Artistic Site

Church of San Juan Bautista – the most original church of all the Visigothic art in Spain

Frómista and its locks on the Canal of Castile

Monastery of Santa María la Real – an old abbey of the Premonstratensian order

Palencia – the capital of the province

Picos de Europa – the second most visited national park in Spain

Salamanca province

Béjar – a historical-artistic complex

Candelario and its architecture

Ciudad Rodrigo – a Historic-Artistic Site

Duques de Alba castle dates back to the 12th century

La Alberca was the first Spanish town to be declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1940

Ledesma – a historical-artistic complex

Miranda del Castañar – a historical-artistic complex

Mogarraz and its faces

Salamanca – the capital of the province

Salamanca car museum and its collection

Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia – the highest Marian sanctuary in the world

Segovia province

Ayllón and its main square

Coca – the birthplace of Roman Emperor Theodosius I

Coca castle – one of the best examples of Spanish Mudejar brickwork

Linares reservoir – a part of the Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park

Maderuelo – a historical complex

Pedraza and its castle

Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso

Segovia – the capital of the province

Sepúlveda – a historical-artistic complex

Soria province

Almazán and its attractions

El Burgo de Osma – a Historic-Artistic Site

La Cuerda del Pozo reservoir and its tourist activities

Medinaceli and its castle

Monteagudo de las Vicarías and its castle

Soria – the capital of the province

Santa María la Real de Huerta – a Cistercian monastery

Yanguas and its castle

Vinuesa and its attractions

Valladolid province

Castle of La Mota belongs to the School of Valladolid

Medina del Campo – the capital of the Rueda Denomination of Origin

Tordesillas and its attractions

Urueña – a book town

Valladolid – the capital of Castile and León

Zamora province

Benavente and the Church of Santa María del Azogue

Monastery of Santa María de Moreruela – a Cistercian monastery

Puebla de Sanabria – a historical complex

Sanabria lake – the largest glacial lake in Spain and the Iberian Peninsula

Zamora – the capital of the province

Transport and how to get to?

By air

Castile and León has four airports open to civil use: Valladolid Airport (municipality of Villanubla) 10 km from Valladolid, which registers the highest volume of air traffic in the Community and is of mixed civil and military use; León Airport, (town of La Virgen del Camino), 10 km from León, also for mixed civil-military use; Salamanca Airport, 17 km east of the capital, previously exclusively for charter flights and now with regular flights, and Burgos Airport (Villafría neighbourhood), the most recently opened (2008).

By trains

Castile and León have extensive rail networks, including the principal lines from Madrid to Cantabria and Galicia. The line from Paris to Lisbon crosses the region, reaching the Portuguese frontier at Fuentes de Oñoro in Salamanca. Astorga, Burgos, León, Miranda de Ebro, Palencia, Ponferrada, Medina del Campo, and Valladolid are all important railway junctions.

Distance by car from the capital of Valladolid to other capital cities of Spain

From Madrid 2 hr 20 min (193 km) via AP-6 and N-601

From Santiago de Compostela 4 hr 17 min (447 km) via A-52

From Oviedo 3 hr 3 min (258 km) via AP-66 and N-601

From Santander 2 hr 44 min (254 km) via A-67

From Vitoria-Gasteiz 2 hr 39 min (243 km) via AP-1 and A-62

From Pamplona 3 hr 31 min (339 km) via A-62

From Zaragoza 4 hr 17 min (427 km) via AP-68

From Barcelona 7 hr 10 min (729 km) via AP-2 and AP-68

From Toledo 2 hr 51 min (257 km) via AP-6 and N-601

From Valencia 5 hr 34 min (547 km) via A-3

From Mérida 3 hr 48 min (396 km) via A-66 and A-62

From Murcia 5 hr 39 min (593 km) via AP-36

From Seville 5 hr 32 min (587 km) via A-66

From Logroño 2 hr 47 min (256 km) via A-62


The Gastronomy of Castilla y León is widely known for the quality of its wines and meats. Some of its quality brands are known worldwide: its wines, with 9 denominations, among which D.O. Ribera del Duero, D.O. Bierzo, D.O. Bull or D.O. Wheel. Sausages and cured or fresh meats, with 16 Protected Geographical Indications and quality marks, among which are Guijuelo Ham, Castile and León Suckling Pig, Segovia Suckling Pig, León Cecina or Cantimpalos Chorizo.

Some of its typical dishes are: roast suckling lamb, roast suckling pig, garlic soup, hornazo, botillo, Saldaña beans, beans from El Barco de Ávila, beans from La Granja , the hen in pepitoria, or the varieties of blood sausage such as the blood sausage from Burgos, the blood sausage from León or the blood sausage from Aranda.

The province of Soria is a notable producer of black truffles, although it still doesn’t have a protected designation of origin or geographical indication for the Soria black truffle. Soria was pointed out by UNESCO as a good example by include the Mediterranean diet in its Representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Various sweets and pastry desserts are also typical, such as the Yemas de Santa Teresa. Depending on the religious calendar (Holy Week, All Saints’ Day), there are some or other traditional sweets.

They are traditional style dishes. In many restaurants the wood oven is still used. This has favored an incipient gastronomic tourism in the community.

The traditional Castilian chocolate with churros is also still practiced for breakfast, mainly on Sundays.

Castile and León is the European region with the largest number of recognized quality marks with 7 protected quality marks, the Bierzo region: D.O. Apple Reineta del Bierzo, M.G. Pera Bierzo Conference, M.G. Castaña del Bierzo, I.G.P. Roasted pepper from Bierzo, I.G.P. Botillo del Bierzo, Wine D.O. Bierzo and M.G. Bierzo cherry.

Main information

Area: 94 226 km²

Coordinates: 41°23′00″N 4°27′00″W

Population: 2 394 918

Languages: Spanish

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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